Johnson Publishing, the Chicago-based family company that launched Ebony and digest-sized sister magazine Jet in 1945 and 1951, respectively, has sold both titles to Austin-based private equity firm Clear View Group.
First reported by the Chicago Tribune's Robert Channick, the deal was apparently completed last month for an undisclosed sum and the assumption of some debt.
Most of the company's current staff will stay on board in both the Chicago and New York offices, according to Clear View chairman Michael Gibson. Linda Johnson Rice, the daughter of company founder John Johnson and chairman of Johnson Publishing, will remain as chairmain emeritus of the new company, Ebony Media Operations.
Not remaining after the transition will be Ebony editor-in-chief Kierna Mayo, who tweeted that she's moving on to become SVP of content and brands for digital publisher Interactive One. She'll be replaced by Kyra Kyles, who had been VP and head of digital editorial for both Ebony and Jet since her promotion from editorial director of Jet a year ago.
Cheryl McKissack, COO at Johnson Publishing, will take over as CEO of the new company.
Ebony will continue to publish its monthly print edition, said Gibson. Paid circulation for the subscription-heavy title has remained relatively stable in recent years alongside its main competitor, Time Inc.'s Essence, according to data from the Alliance for Audited Media. Jet went digital-only in late 2014.
"There's a lot of good reasons to keep the print," Gibson said, according to the Tribune. "That will always be our anchor. We want to grow the digital platform more consistently with both Ebony and Jet."
Johnson Publishing, which will likely change its name, will keep the company's cosmetics line, Fashion Fair, as well as Ebony's potentially-lucrative photo archive.
This is a developing story.